Saturday, December 19, 2009

Polar Express Cocoa

Have you ever read The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg?  You haven't??  You need to!!

Polar Express is the story of a man, who is telling about one Christmas Eve when he was a young boy.  He lay in bed, deep in thought.  It's about Santa Claus.  See, his friend had insisted that Santa didn't really exist - but he must exist, right?  That couldn't be true.  Our hero was listening for sleigh bells.  But it wasn't sleigh bells that brought him out of the house at night.  It was a train, called the Polar Express, that he climbed aboard with other children, to take him to the north pole, where he found a "huge city standing alone at the top of the world, filled with factories where every Christmas toy was made."

It was our narrator who was chosen to be given the very first present that Christmas, by Santa Claus himself!  This is quite an honor, of course, as only one child a year gets to be the first child to recieve a Christmas present.  Knowing he can have anything in the whole world, he chooses a sleigh bell from Santa's sleigh.  Unfortunately, there is a hole in the pocket of his bathrobe, and by the time he gets home, the bell is gone - but! It's ok.  Santa has left the bell with the rest of his presents. The best thing about the sleigh bell is that, while the narrator and his little sister can hear it ringing, his parents can't.  Only those who truly believe in Santa can hear the bell ring.  The book concludes by saying that, "though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe."

This is a great story (the movie was an interesting take on the book, which I think I would have liked much better if it wasn't in creepy CGI), made even better by the descriptions the author uses, and by the beautiful illustrations.  My favorite description, of course, is that of the hot cocoa that the children on the train are given to drink, which was "as thick and rich as melted chocolate bars."  Mmm.... I had to come up with something for that.

Polar Express Cocoa
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
4 cups milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt

1. In a medium saucepan, heat the water, sugar and cocoa powder over medium heat until boiling; let it boil for two minutes.
2. Add the milk, chocolate chips, marshmallows, and pinch of salt (it brings out the other flavors), and heat until everything has melted together - don't boil it at this stage.
3. Add the vanilla and stir to combine.  Pour into mugs and enjoy!  This makes about four servings.

This recipe is (slightly) adapted from one that I found on the AllRecipes website, listed as a comment to another recipe - I'm not sure who to credit here, but the commenter whose recipe I've taken is listed as Elizra.

I really like this one - it's thick and rich and... well, tastes like melted chocolate bars.  The marshmallows melted into the cocoa as it's cooking add a nice thickness and richness of flavor that it otherwise would be lacking.

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